The LRCA (Cole Schisler photo)

LRCA Food Bank sees outpouring of community support during COVID-19

The food bank remains open and has adopted enhanced safety measures

The LRCA’s Food Bank has adopted enhanced measures to ensure safe delivery of food during COVID-19.

Only one client can come into the food bank at one time, and people have to keep a distance of six feet while waiting in line. The door to the food bank is kept open to minimize touchpoint contact. A LRCA staff member stands at the door and lets people in. As a client comes in, they must use hand sanitizer provided by the LRCA, and hand sanitizer on the way out.

For the transfer of food, LRCA staff members bag the food, place it on a table, and the clients pick up the food from the table, rather than directly from the staff member.

LRCA staff have adopted a strict cleaning regiment. All touch surfaces and food packaging are cleaned and wiped down. Staff are also regularly sanitizing and washing their hands.

Although many grocery stores were seeing limited supplies of certain items at the out set of the North American COVID-19 crisis, the LRCA food bank benefited from a large amount of donations that came in at Christmas time.

“We’re purchasing produce, as usual. The places we’re most impacted is recovered food,” LRCA food security coordinator, Paula Masyk said.

Recovered food is bread and meat supplies that near their expiry date, and are donated to the food bank. Although recovered food items have been lower, Masyk says donations have continued to pour in from the community.

“The community has been unbelievably generous. There’s a lot of cash donations coming in, and people offering things. Stores have helped us in a variety of ways. The 49th called us and said if we need anything, they’ll supply us with it.”

Masyk said the LRCA saw an increase in clientele before the COVID-19 crisis took hold. She noted that there was an increase in clientele tied to the eight month WFP strike, however a multitude of factors led to the increase. There was also a brief increase of clientele from other parts of the Cowichan Valley as the Duncan food bank was briefly closed due to a possible COVID-19 exposure. The Duncan food bank has now reopened.

The food bank is giving out the same portions to clients as they did before COVID-19. Due to provincial health guidelines, the LRCA soup kitchen was closed. Soup kitchen meals can still be picked up, but individuals cannot come in to eat their meal at the LRCA.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on April 3 that Canada would invest $100 million to access food. Organizations like Food Banks Canada, Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres, Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada will be the primary recipients of these funds. It is unclear at this time how the LRCA food bank will benefit from the newly available funds.

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